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03.25.09

Links 25/03/2009: Lots on KDE4, FSF Awards Granted

Posted in News Roundup at 11:00 pm by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

GNOME bluefish

Contents

GNU/Linux

  • Is there life after Windows?

    Linux is free, easy-to-use and is shedding its geeky image, thanks to fans who prefer it to Microsoft’s mighty operating systems. But is it for everyone? Jamie Merrill asks four rookies to put it to the test

    [...]

    “If you talk to a lot of Windows users and ask them what they use, they say, ‘I’m using Firefox and OpenOffice,’ and if you boot up, say, Linux Ubuntu, a community-developed, Linux-based operating system created for laptops, desktops and servers, both those tools are there, so it’s familiar territory, totally safe and free. So the question should ‘why not use Linux?’”.

  • Stretch your family’s budget with Linux

    Whether you don’t want to invest any more capital in a Microsoft system right now or you just have a desire to find out what this Linux thing is all about – tune in tomorrow where I’ll introduce you to a popular and exciting Linux distribution, show you where to download it, and explain how to burn and boot it.

  • Tux Fleets of USB Keys to Boldly Go Where No Windows Has Gone Before

    Our attempt failed, but it revealed that MS is really afraid of usb-booting. We shouldn’t really care about what MS thinks. We should just mind our own business and boldly go where no windows has gone before. But that happens to be exactly what MS is afraid of anyway :-)

  • If It Scares Microsoft, It’s Good For Everyone Else

    I too wonder why anyone would be a fan of a company that is so abusive and hostile to its own customers. Is being the biggest gorilla all that matters? Is that what being a success means, and is that really something to admire?

    Richard Stallman is often criticized as being out of touch and too fanatical. But I think that anyone who is really paying attention knows that if anything, that he’s barely hard-core enough. The good news is Linux and FOSS are progressing so quickly, and with so much genuine innovation, we have multitudes of great tools for getting our work done quicker and easier, and for wowing customers of the monopolist who have been led to believe that innovation is charging newer, fancier prices for the same old junk. All the best tools and toys are in the FOSS world now, and everyone is welcome.

  • Does Linux Benefit from Hard Times?

    The likely losers in this particularly severe economic downturn are proprietary Unix and many of Microsoft’s server offerings. In the future, we may well look back and see it as an important tipping point when Linux and open source server software finally became the prudent corporate norm.

  • ars technica – Windows DRM? We’re ok with that.

    A recent slashdot article outlined some of the DRM that can be found in the new Microsoft stab at relevancy – Windows 7.

    I’m hearing that Vista thing didn’t work out so well.

    As a GNU/Linux-only user…one who wouldn’t have one byte of MS code on his machine, I find the criticism valid…I would no more let Microsoft control my computer than I would ever purchase one of their products.

  • Help/Systems Extends i OS Job Scheduler to Linux and Unix

    Interested in scheduling and controlling jobs for AIX, Solaris, and Linux servers from the comfort and security of your System i? Now you can, thanks to Help/Systems, which last week launched a new product called Robot/SCHEDULE Enterprise.

  • Ingres, Wilken Group in strategic partnership

    Future plans include combining the Wilken OSBL technology and Ingres Icebreaker, which comprises the Linux operating system and the Ingres database.

  • Lantronix ManageLinx Remote Device Solution a Mixed Bag

    The system comprises—at a minimum—two DSCes and one DSM. The DSM is a 1U proxy connection point, directory service, and Web-based management system. Essentially a Linux server, the DSM is the brains of the operation, configuring and monitoring DSCes, setting up automated device discovery on remote networks, keeping track of how to connect to each DSC, and building secure SSH tunnels over TCP/IP.

  • Cloud Storage Options Multiply

    Offered through resellers and systems integrators, Axcient is offering a family of appliances with a range of storage capacities that automatically connect to an off-site data center run by the company. The package includes a Linux-based operating system written by Axcient that’s designed to make it easy to add new services and features, as well as provide centralized management, he says.

  • Axcient Debuts “Total Data Protection” Appliance for SMBs

    Axcient’s appliance is totally agentless, running its own Linux-based operating system to automatically back up and protect servers and desktop and laptop workstations. The idea, Moore says, is to offer an “easy and intuitive app to centralize and virtualize management of the data protection environment.” Whew!

  • Aussies! Grab a sub $200 Linux desktop – today only!

    Impulse-buy retailer Zazz.com.au has sold computers in the past, but today’s deal is a special one to my heart. For less than $200 including freight you get a Dell Optiplex desktop computer with Ubuntu Linux loaded and guaranteed fully working. However, you only have today to go for it.

  • Timeline: 40 years of OS milestones

    Free software advocate Richard Stallman announces the plan for GNU, a Unix-like operating system that contains no proprietary software. Twenty-six years later, GNU’s official kernel, GNU Hurd, will still be incomplete.

  • Kernel Space

    • Linux kernel advances

      At the conclusion of 2008, the 2.6.28 kernel surfaced. Subsequently, the merge window for the next release—2.6.29—opened. As the Linux kernel uses a distributed development process, it’s not always clear what’s coming (or will be integrated) into a given kernel release, but the last two have been interesting from both a short- and long-term perspective. One interesting milestone for 2.6.28 is that it’s the first time Linux has exceeded 10 million lines of source code (see Figure 1, which uses source line count data from Heise Online).

    • Four Days Pass, Time For New NVIDIA Linux Driver

      NVIDIA pushed out the 185.13 Beta Linux driver just four days ago, but already they have released another new Linux driver. This time around, the NVIDIA 180.37.04 driver was released. Most notably what’s introduced with this driver is support for OpenGL 3.1, which was just publicly announced by the Khronos Group a few hours ago. This driver is based upon the 180.3x release stream does not incorporate some of the features found in the newer 185.xx series.

  • Games

    • Review: Battle for Wesnoth 1.6

      After more than a year of constant development, The Battle for Wesnoth 1.6 was put out on March 22. This release comes with new graphics and unit portraits, a new campaign, called ‘Legend of Wesmere’, the possibility to log into the multiplayer with the forum account, and many, many other improvements.

    • Just For Fun: 13 Free Linux Games Worth Trying

      Everyone needs a little down time every now and again. Whether you’re taking a break from hours of programming, trying to calm a conference-induced headache, or just relaxing at home, these Linux-based games offer a nice chance to unwind. The titles listed here are all available in the Ubuntu software repositories; just search for “games” in Synaptic if you want an idea of just how many choices are available.

    • Are Linux apps and games worth paying for?

      The Linux operating system is free; you can download it without paying any licensing fees. You can use it in the home, you can run a business on it, even a data centre. You can embed it within tiny custom hardware. Despite this, Linux hasn’t become a household name. Paradoxically, it may be the perceived dearth of commercial applications which is a cause.

    • Near-Final Pandora Linux Gaming Handheld Shown Actually Playing Something

      We last saw the Pandora as an inert prototype, which showed us what the console would look like but not how it would run. Here we see the whole package, albeit in naked, anemic white: the machine boots into its Angstrom Linux OS, opens Quake and plays a game, controlled with the device’s keypad.

  • Web Browsers

    • Chrome for Linux may shake up Firefox

      Linux users can now get an early taste of Google’s Chrome browser through the Chromium project. Although not an official Chrome release Chromium is an open source project on which the official Chrome browser is based. In this form it gives uses a good, although still rough, insight into what Linux users can expect when a final official Chrome release is made.

    • Firefox Browser Going On A Memory Diet

      Over the past few years, Firefox set the pace of browser innovation. But it has been caught or passed by Chrome 2, Safari 4, and Internet Explorer 8. The competition has been getting faster and has added advanced features like pre-emptive threading and memory protection for tabs.

    • Memory usage in Firefox 3.1 Beta 3

      Windows and Linux have different ways of handling memory, with Linux usually pre-allocating more than needed and then releasing and Windows adding more memory by demand. This aligns well with the overall behavior of the two operating systems, where Linux usually wins when it comes to memory-intensive tasks.

    • about:mozilla — Firefox Mobile, Mozilla Foundation, AMO, Bespin, video tutorials, Labs, Metrics, and more…

      In this issue…

      * Firefox Mobile (Fennec) 1.0 beta 1 released
      * Mozilla Foundation March update
      * Busy month for the AMO team
      * Bespin community update
      * Design Challenge video tutorials
      * Mountain View Labs Meetup: Thursday!
      * SeaMonkey 1.1.15 released
      * Metrics: What is Firefox’s market share?

    • The Future of Firefox: Interview With Mozilla’s Chief Innovation Officer

      As for other upcoming changes to Firefox, Beard told me that many aspects of the current Firefox experience could be in the cloud – for example bookmarks and the “Awesome Bar” (Mozilla’s term for its adaptive learning URL bar). Beard said that portability of the user experience is important in this era of the Web and so they’ll be looking to offer certain functionality and data in the cloud.

  • Desktops

    • The Beginner’s Guide to Linux, Part 3: Choosing Your Window Manager and Desktop Environment

      Due to the vast number of window managers available for Linux, many new users often feel overwhelmed at the idea of having to learn their way around them. We must emphasize that many people experiment with several window managers before settling down with one that feels right for them, and there certainly is no need to learn all of them. Due to their modular nature, it is common to have several window managers installed at once.

    • GNOME

      • Next GNOME Foundation Elections

        As people probably remember, the current GNOME Foundation Board was elected to serve until June 30th, 2009. We changed the end date from December 31th to June 30th so that the new board could have a face-to-face meeting at the very beginning of its term, during GUADEC. This face-to-face meeting is most useful to energize the board and make things go faster, so it really makes sense to have it occur at the beginning of a board term.

    • KDE

      • K3b 2.0 coming to KDE4 mid-2009, Qt forked for port

        Popular CD and DVD burning application for KDE, K3b is gearing up for its first port to KDE4 with a pending 2.0 release, but part of the Qt toolkit had to be forked to make it possible.

        K3b version 1.0 was released for the KDE 3 series in 2007, but since then it has been a non-trivial port to the new KDE4 platform for lead developer Sebastian Trueg.

      • KDE Hopes for a Flood of Ideas

        For now, the system is being described as a “first public test run” — a beta, if you will — and all KDE users are encouraged to visit the new forum, try it out, and share their thoughts on the process. A reminder, though, from those powers-that-be: The Brainstorm is for feature requests only — crashes, crunches, and other miscellaneous catastrophes should continue to be fed to Bugzilla.

      • Parts applet improved [Lancelot]

        The parts applet is now based on the Plasma::PopupApplet just like most other applets including the device notifier (Plasma::PopupApplet did not exist when the Parts applet was developed – it was introduced along with Plasma extenders). You can see what it looks like in the left screenshot.

        It has some bugs at the moment, but will be polished in time for 4.3.

      • Kontact: Contacts (KAddressBook)

        In the last article I was very positive toward the Kontact suit. However, Contacts is the exception to this. The interface is way too cluttered and wastes too much space. From the main interface to the Contact editor, everything seems like it could be fairly better.

      • Test-Driving KDE 4

        At this point, I’ve yet to reach a verdict on whether or not I like KDE 4. It has some nice features, but I’m having a hard time getting over KMail’s lackluster performance and the absence of a normal desktop. I’ve made a commitment to continue using KDE until the end of the week, however, at which time I’ll write an update containing a more thorough outline of my experience.

  • Distributions

    • The G:Mini 3.0.rc01 (2.9.90) is Released

      The GoblinX Project is proud to announce the second release of the next G:Mini. The G:Mini 3.0 rc01 (2.9.90) is released. The G:Mini formely known as ‘GoblinX Mini Edition‘ is the son of GoblinX and contains only XFCE as the windows manager and GTK/GTK2 based applications. The edition is ideal for those users whose want to remaster the distro or with difficulties in downloading more than three hundred of megabytes (the original size of g:Standard).

    • MES 5 beta-test launches

      We are thrilled to announce the launch of the beta-test of Mandriva Enterprise Server 5 (aka MES 5).

    • Distributions: The big and the small

      While the community distributions Fedora and Ubuntu, as well as Mandriva, prepare for their spring releases, Novell has been busy completing final adjustments to SUSE Linux Enterprise. Smaller Linux distributions are also doing some spring cleaning and publishing updated versions.

    • Review: Granular Linux 1.0

      Back in September of 2007 I took a look at what was then the 0.9 version of Granular. It was a pretty good distribution at the time, even for being only beta quality. I’m not sure what’s taking so long to reach the 1.0 status, but it’s finally here, and we’re about to give it a spin and see what the full version looks like and how well it’ll work for new users.

      [...]

      Overall I’m not terribly impressed with this release of Granular.

    • Red Hat

    • Debian

      • Etch Is Still Better

        I’m not sure why, but after testing Lenny several different ways, Etch is still better. In fact, Lenny is downright inferior.

      • A Few Questions For Eric Sharkey

        Debian is still my OS of choice. I have it on my workstation in my home office, and my laptop, and is the supporting OS for the MythTV in my living room. I used to use it at work, but after switching jobs in 2005 I am unfortunately working in an all Fedora environment. (It could be worse, of course.)

    • Ubuntu

      • Ubuntu planning move to the cloud

        Add Canonical to the roster of companies offering technology to help enterprise customers build their own cloud-computing setups. But unlike most of the better-known players in this nascent market, the twist here is that the technology will be supplied by an open-source shop.

      • Ubuntu promises DIY Amazon cloud

        The goal is to make Ubuntu Amazon-ready for developers champing to get a bit of EC2 action but who are constrained by working inside large and conservative organizations that place restrictions on what applications and data can be run outside their firewall on a third-party’s service.

      • Five Essential Ubuntu Modifications

        I like to run the latest software, so every 6 months when a new Ubuntu debuts I upgrade my system. To keep everything running smoothly I like to start with a clean install, but I always find myself repeating the same modifications. Some of these modifications are essential to get certain features to work, one of them is something I couldn’t do without. Here are my five essential Ubuntu modifications.

      • First Look: Parsix 2.0r0

        With the spring settling in more and more everyday and flowers blooming all over the place, we thought it would be appropriate to take a first look at the Persian flower distribution that goes by the name of Parsix 2.0r0.

  • Devices/Embedded

    • 8TB NAS runs Linux

      Seagate is readying a four-bay network-attached storage device for small businesses that runs embedded Linux and stores up to 8TB. The hot-swappable BlackArmor NAS 440 offers an iTunes server and DLNA-compliant media server, RAID 0/1/5/10, dual gigabit Ethernet ports, and four USB ports, says Seagate.

    • Android Apps Maturing: Two Useful New Ones
    • Sub-notebooks

      • Mer: Remastering Maemo

        Mer is an outgrowth of Nokia’s Maemo environment, designed to flesh out the tablet-centric operating system into a full-fledged Linux distribution suitable for embedded and desktop systems of all description. The project’s genesis was an effort to back port the upcoming Maemo 5.0 release to no-longer-supported Nokia N800 and N810 tablets, but it has subsequently evolved to run on BeagleBoards, embedded navigation devices like the Pocket LOOX, and standard x86 hardware.

      • Dell’s 3G Smartphone Play: Netbooks

        Dell keeps saying that one-third of its Inspiron Mini 9 systems are shipped with Linux instead of Windows XP and that the return rates for products using either operating systems are about the same.

        Dell chalks up its success with Linux to the direct sales model, where it can coach customers on the phone about what system may suit them best. But besides patting itself on the back for excellent customer service, Dell is sending a pretty clear signal to Microsoft that it intends to continue with Linux netbooks. Dell makes more profit on the Linux systems.

      • Dell Inspiron Mini 9 Netbook on Sale for $199 only Today

        Dell has the Inspiron Mini 9 netbook on sale for $199 after $50 off only today.
        The Inspiron Mini 9 for the low $199 price runs Ubuntu Linux on an Atom N270 (1.6GHz/533Mhz FSB/512) CPU, 512MB RAM and 8GB Solid State Drive.
        If you would rather have Windows XP, Dell also has a more powerful Mini 9 on sale for $299.

      • Moblin moves to second alpha

        The Intel-sponsored Moblin project announced an alpha 2 release of its Moblin v2 mobile device stack, which targets Intel Atom-based netbooks. The open-source Linux stack and development toolkit adds a Gnome desktop, updates UI libraries and graphics, and offers tested support for the MSI Wind netbook.

      • Intel Moblin V2 Alpha 2: It Boots Even Faster!

        Back in January Intel had pushed out its first alpha release for Moblin V2. This Intel-optimized Linux distribution targeting systems with Intel Atom hardware was quite unique and offered a number of advantages for being a netbook-oriented operating system. Particularly special about Intel Moblin V2 was its boot-time, which was extremely fast when using a Solid-State Drive. Intel has now put out a second alpha release for Moblin V2, which we are briefly exploring today.

      • Second alpha of Moblin for netbooks released
      • As promised, some screens from Ubuntu Netbook Remix

        As promised, I took some screenshots of the Ubuntu Netbook Remix, Jaunty Edition.

      • How Small Is Your PC? The Rise of Netbooks and Other Small Form-Factor PCs

        With laptop sales outpacing desktops, and mobile phones outselling both, David Chisnall talks about the current state of portable computing and where he thinks it will end up.

Free Software/Open Source

  • Why People Like Open Source Software

    And why do people open source their own software?

    To put it simply, they failed to sell their software, and this is THE main reason. But I can certainly give you some minor ones too:

    1. Because they failed to create a software that can be sold for $.99 to millions of people and work on iPhone.

    2. Because they can’t afford to hire salesmen who are members of the same golf clubs as CEO’s of Fortune 500.

    3. Because other people already did the same, and having proprietary software hurts your image.

    [...]

  • Events

  • Business

    • Why Recession Is Causing Enterprises to Rethink Open-Source Strategy

      Open-source software and middleware, which is now populating every part of modern data centers, has always had to fight a reputation—deserved or undeserved—of being simply too “Wild West” for many enterprises.

      Not so anymore, Alfresco’s general manager for the Americas, Matt Asay, told a near full-house audience in his opening remarks at the sixth annual Open Source Business Conference here at the Palace Hotel.

      Alfresco, started up in 2005 by Documentum co-founder John Newton and John Powell, former chief operating officer of Business Objects, provides an enterprise-ready open-source CMS (content management system).

    • Commercial open source, the future state
  • Sun

    • Open-Source Technology in Emerging Markets

      Simon Phipps, chief open source officer at Sun Microsystems, explains why Brazil and South Africa are among the leaders in open-source technology. Polya Lesova reports.

    • OpenOffice gets Non-linear Solver

      Friday saw the release of a new extension to the OpenOffice.org Calc spreadsheet which adds two new solver mechanisms. The new solver extension complements the linear solver component built into Calc in OpenOffice.org 3. A solver allows a user to calculate optimum values given a function and constraints.

  • Licensing

    • Eric S. Raymond speaks heresy.

      Recently my local LUG (LILUG) invited Eric S. Raymond (ESR) to come and speak. For those of you who are not familiar with ESR, he is one of the three largest icons of the Open Source/Free Software movement. Needless to say, it was an honor so see him speak. For the most part, his talk was quite tame but one of the points he raised seemed quite controversial.

      [...]

      The Open Source/Free Software movement is thriving, it does not mean its a good time to kill the GPL. In fact I don’t think there will ever be a time when killing the GPL will do more good than harm.

  • Programming

    • Oracle doesn’t need Red Hat. It needs Zend

      Oracle and Zend already collaborate on a PHP distribution for Oracle so the two are hardly strangers. Oracle participates in the broad Java ecosystem, but if it owned the lead PHP vendor it could take a commanding position in the PHP space and carve out a real niche for itself. PHP is a critical component of the LAMP (Linux/Apache/MySQL/PHP) web stack and with Zend in hand, Oracle could get a strong grip on its own web stack business.

    • Programming guide: the new text entry features in GTK+ 2.16

      Version 2.16 of the GTK+ toolkit, which was recently released, includes some useful new features for text entry widgets. Ars gives you some code examples and a hands-on look at how to use these features in your own programs.

Standards/Consortia

  • Khronos cranks out new OpenGL 3.1 spec

    THE KHRONOS GROUP, chaired by Nvidia crony Neil Trevett, has released OpenGL 3.1 – the cross-platform, royalty-free API for 3D graphics – at GDC in San Francisco today.

    Version 3.1 of OpenGL includes a new version of the OpenGL shading language – GLSL1.40 – and has better programmability, more efficient vertex processing, expanded texturing functionality and increased buffer management flexibility.

    Arguably the best thing about OpenGL 3.1, as the name indicates, is its ‘openness’, with multiple vendors signing up and jumping on the bandwagon. In fact, analyst Jon Peddie reckons over 100 million computer units already have an installed base of graphics hardware that will support OpenGL 3.1, while OpenGL 3.0 drivers are already shipping on AMD, Nvidia and S3 GPUs.

  • OpenGL 3.1 Released Plus New Audio Standard
  • A 3D web moves closer to reality

    The 3D web moved closer to reality as Mozilla, the developer of the Firefox browser, joined forces with graphics consortium Khronos.

    Khronos has set up a working group to create a standard for what it calls accelerated 3D graphics on the web.

    [...]

    The development of the standard being proposed by Mozilla will create a mechanism to let JavaScript – the programming language used to write many web-based applications – tap into the widely used OpenGL graphics interface technology.

  • Document Freedom Day 2009

    Tomorrow, 25th of March 2009 will be the 2nd global Document Freedom Day; “but what exactly is Document Freedom Day?” I hear you ask, I did myself.

  • Back from Document Freedom Day event in Hamburg
  • Document Freedom Day 2009

Leftovers

  • Censorship/Web Abuse

    • Newsflash: German Wikileaks Domain Owner Raided At Home – ACMA Leak Blamed

      Early reports indicate that the home of the German WikiLeaks Domain owner has been raided by police investigating the ACMA list leak.

    • Facebook attacks UK gov’t monitoring plans

      Social-networking site Facebook has criticized government suggestions that intelligence services should monitor the web communications of all UK citizens.

      Facebook chief privacy officer and head of global public policy Chris Kelly told ZDNet UK on Tuesday that the government proposals, which include monitoring social-networking sites, were excessive.

  • Copyrights

    • Open Letter re. Proposed Copyright Term Extension for Sound Recordings

      Despite this well-nigh universal opposition from IP experts the Commission put forward a proposal last July to extend term from 50 to 95 years (retrospectively as well as prospectively). That proposal is now in the final stages of its consideration by the European Parliament and Council. We can only hope that they will understand the basic point that an extension of the form proposed must inevitably to more harm than good to the welfare of the EU and should therefore be opposed.

    • Flat World Knowledge Offers Open Source-Style College Textbooks

      In an effort to make curriculum content more accessible to both students and teachers, New York-based startup Flat World Knowledge is going after the textbook industry by offering expertly-written books that educational institutions are free to modify to meet their needs.

    • Why Is The AP Invoking The DMCA Over The Obama Poster?

      [I]t’s claiming that his post violates the DMCA. That should leave you scratching your head, considering that the DMCA seems almost entirely unrelated to Fairey making a poster. But the AP seems to be claiming that in removing the little copyright notice beneath its photo, Fairey violated section 1202.

    • Senator’s Solution To Dying Newspapers: Become A Non-Profit

      With many newspapers struggling to stay in business, a lot of ideas have been tossed around about how to keep existing papers alive. One idea, which has reached the US Senate in the form of a bill introduced by Senator Benjamin Cardin, is to allow newspapers to operate as non-profits, which would exempt them from taxes on subscription and advertising revenue, while also allowing them to raise funds via donations, similar to how public broadcasting companies operate.

    • Mark Cuban Declares War On Free TV Online… But Misses Out On The Economics

      Plenty of newspapers did try to charge and almost all of them failed. People were never that interested in paying for news online, and plenty of new sources of news were popping up for free online anyway. Charging was a dead-end model from the beginning — and to understand why, all you need to do is understand a little basic economics concerning the difference between infinite and scarce goods.

Digital Tipping Point: Clip of the Day

Nat Friedman 02 (2004)

Ogg Theora

Digital Tipping Point is a Free software-like project where the raw videos are code. You can assist by participating.

Microsoft’s “Burning The Ships” is Corporate Patent Propaganda (and How Novell Helps It)

Posted in Europe, Law, Microsoft, Novell, Patents, Red Hat at 3:37 pm by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

Summary: Preliminary remarks on the motives of a new book and some more patent news

Stupid Book

EARLIER ON IN THE DAY we wrote about Ina Fried's little Microsoft placement, which glorified the company’s patent strategy against Free software. Now that Mary Jo Foley (who is usually more moderate and less of a Microsoft mouthpiece) has finally looked at Microsoft’s book and had time to make up her own mind, this turns out to be just what one ought to expect: a 186-leaf ‘whitepaper’.

While Microsoft may not have directly funded this book, it gave the authors access to its execs — everyone from Gates to Senior VP and General Counsel Brad Smith, to a number of Microsoft public-relations folks. Phelps still works at Microsoft as Corporate Vice President for IP Policy. So calling this book “unauthorized” is quite a stretch.

[...]

I haven’t read the full 186 pages of The Ships yet. But what I’ve skimmed so far makes me feel like I’m reading yet another Microsoft white paper or press release, not any kind of a behind-the-scenes tell-all. I’d be interested in hearing how some of the OEMs and other licensees of Microsoft’s patents feel about the way the authors characterize the IP licensing deals mentioned in the book….

Speaking of “other licensees,” Microsoft has just signed up another ActiveSync victim, just like it did with Xandros. It even mentions Xandros by name in the new press release about Gecad.

Over the past few years, Microsoft has entered into Exchange ActiveSync licensing agreements with Apple Inc., Big Bang System Corp., DataViz Inc., Google Inc., Helio LLC, IXI Mobile (R&D) Ltd., Nokia Corp., Palm Inc., Remoba Inc., Samsung Electronics Co. Ltd., Sony Ericsson Mobile Communications AB, Symbian Software Ltd. and Xandros Inc.

Andy Updegrove wrote a good article last week. Therein, Updegrove explained how Microsoft had been stringing such patent deals together to justify them and persistently pressure the next victim until submission. This string of patent deals was kick-started by Novell and then marketed widely by both Microsoft and Novell. Soon enough, Microsoft found some new victims like Xandros, Linspire, and Turbolinux. It’s part of a bigger plan

“This string of patent deals was kick-started by Novell and then marketed widely by both Microsoft and Novell.”The book just published is therefore intended to continue the marketing campaign whilst Microsoft lobbyists sing praises of Microsoft’s mighty “IP” and how everyone must respect it despite the fact that Microsoft never respected anyone else's ideas and inventions.

We’ve learned that the publisher of “Burning The Ships” also sends SJVN a complimentary copy of the book. But why? Steven will hopefully not be brainwashed by it.

The newly-published book is likely to be filled with spin or saturated with revisionism because a truthful book would concentrate on and describe failures of Phelps to sign the patent deal Microsoft really needed -- the one with Red Hat. Peer reviewers of this book appear to be Microsoft executives — primarily those who think of terms of law and have professional background in the subject.

Lastly, the book also sells the impression that Microsoft is changing. Just think about the title of the book. It’s a serious lie to say that Microsoft has changed or evolved (or is “burning old ships”). Microsoft uses Novell to market itself and sell the false perception that it encourages interoperability (whilst suing TomTom over FAT in Linux).

Yesterday in the news we found this from a Microsoft executive who uses Novell to market Microsoft technologies and sell the bogus image Microsoft craves to deceive the public with.

[Microsoft's] Paoli: We also collaborate with our competitors — EMC, Novell, SAP and Sun, for example— to help solve the interoperability challenges of our mutual customers. Take Novell, for example. Microsoft worked with Novell to enable Moonlight, an open source implementation of Silverlight for the Linux operating system. Moonlight gives Linux-based users access to Web experiences that incorporate video, animation, interactivity and stunning user interfaces. It will be provided as an open source plug-in for the Firefox Web browser. In fact, an early version of Moonlight was used in January to stream President Obama’s inauguration ceremony.

Stupid Patents

It is reassuring to see that patent unrest is growing. IEEE Spectrum, for example, has just published “The Death of Business-Method Patents” and it mentions software patents too. [via Digital Majority]

The problem is that all software ultimately reduces to mathematical operations, yet only some software controls actual stuff, like the baking of rubber. If the rest is merely math and therefore unpatentable, does that mean we must deny patents to all software that runs nothing but itself?

Over in the South African press, the idea of patenting in general — and software in particular — is being slammed based on a famous corollary from Newton and the success of the World Wide Web, being a spectacular reference example of a democratising force.

Berners-Lee himself was motivated by the desire to be able to share and collaborate on ideas with other scientists and researchers. He worked on the notion of combining the concept of hypertext with the Internet, and the rest, as they say, is history.

The interesting thing about all of this in today’s world of digital rights and software patents is Berners-Lee let his creation loose on the world, with no intention of claiming ownership, royalties or patents. Thanks to this, others were able to build on his ideas and give us the WWW we enjoy (and profit from) today.

Had Vannevar Bush claimed “prior art” for his ideas or Berners-Lee felt a tad greedy, we might be looking at a very different technology landscape in 2009. Most technology, whether it’s a hammer with a claw attached or a nail-file-clipper combo are converged versions of several ideas. With the ongoing debate about who’s using whose code and whether or not they should be paying for it, maybe it’s time to take a step back and look at the mentality of the guys who got us here today. Driven by a desire to share learning and collaborate with others, they saw a bigger picture. Maybe we should do the same.

Stupid WIPO

Glyn Moody keeps abreast of these matters as well. He too realises that software patents are a hot topic right now (and not in a good way).

Finally, the World Intellectual Property Organisation (WIPO) is also looking at the whole area of patents. Particularly significant is the explicit consideration of “Exclusions from Patentable Subject Matter and Exceptions and Limitations to the Rights”, which mentions programs as one such area that might be examined.

It’s hard to tell whether good or bad will come out of these initiatives, but it’s clear that software patents are a hot topic at the moment.

The FSFE is doing what it can to make impact on (mis)understanding of software patents inside WIPO, which considers Free software to be illegal. [via Glyn Moody]

FSFE believes that its systematic considerations should be taken into account for and put in perspective to the reports. In particular the economic rationale for the patent system should be taken into account and reflected for the considerations of document SCP/13/3, the report on exclusions from patentable subject matter and exceptions and limitations to the rights.

We wrote about WIPO many times before [1, 2, 3, 4]. It is run by companies in the sense that funding and people come from companies, so to assume there are purely ethical and logical considerations at play would simply be naïve. But that’s exactly the Geneva-based establishment which the FSFE is addressing here. Coincidentally, FSFE was conceived in Switzerland (see correction at the bottom) and so was ISO, which got corrupted by Microsoft.

Last but not least, regarding the patent 'reform' bill that's a farce, there is something happening right now which may impact and probably reinforce this broken ‘reform’. Results from the Tafas v. Doll appeal come into play.

The conflict stems from a set of rules that the USPTO tried to put into effect in 2007. These would have limited patent applications to five unique claims and 25 total claims per invention, versus the historic lack of limit. Among other things, they would also have restricted the number of requests to reconsider a decision to reject a patent application as well as the number of continuations, or chances to effectively amend a patent application already in process. (Additional continuations would have been theoretically possible, but only with special permission and filing of additional paperwork that experts say could open the patents, if granted, to additional avenues of attack from competitors.)

Stupid Future

In a perfect world, engineers — not lawyers — would choose their own destiny. But as long as many administrative roles, governments included, are mostly occupied by lawyers, it will simply be too difficult to ignore, let alone to change the rules. Remember the Golden Rule: those with the gold will make the rules.

“Geeks like to think that they can ignore politics, you can leave politics alone, but politics won’t leave you alone.”

Richard Stallman

Woman novell

Correction from Georg Greve (26/03/2009): “FSFE was not incorporated in Geneva or Switzerland. FSFE was initially incorporated in Hamburg, Germany – and has always been a charitable registered German association. See http://fsfeurope.org/about/legal/constitution.en.html for the legal statutes registered in Germany.

“That said, we do have an office in Zurich, Switzerland, which also constitutes the basis for our charitable status in Switzerland. This is a useful base for the Freedom Task Force, and allows me to go to Geneva with a simple train ride.

“Another reference that’s potentially useful – FSFE’s project page for the WIPO work is at http://fsfeurope.org/projects/wipo/ and contains lots of materials and references about the work we’ve been doing.”

Happy Document Freedom Day

Posted in Formats, OpenDocument, Standard at 1:31 pm by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

Document freedom day

Featured article: “Taking Control of Your Documents”

Although many users simply click “Save” and give no thought to which format is being used under the covers, this unthinking use of the word processor’s default settings is a recipe for vendor lock-in. In fact, several vendors intentionally set their default format to be ones which will only work well with their own software, fostering dependency on that vendor’s software and lessening the user’s ability to take advantage of other options in the market. The more documents you save and accumulate in a vendor’s proprietary format, the harder it will be for you to consider any other choices.

The Unfortunate Effect of the “Boycott Boycott Novell” Crowd

Posted in Boycott Novell, Site News at 11:23 am by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

Novell beach

Our new voting system suffers from an inherent flaw. It is sensitive to people who read this Web site as avid protesters against it, not frank readers of it. The distribution of votes on articles (as seen below) says it all really.

Vote distribution

How Red Hat Dodged a Novell-Like Microsoft Deal Despite Lobbying for Software Patents

Posted in Europe, GNU/Linux, Microsoft, Novell, Patent Covenant, Patents, Red Hat, SUN at 6:50 am by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

The Battle of Trafalgar
The Battle of Trafalgar

Summary: Microsoft releases — via CNET — information about its secret patent “projects”

WE HAVE BEEN AWARE for a couple of years now that Red Hat too was discussing patents with Microsoft but no deal was ever signed other than the recent virtualisation collaboration. It involves no patents at all. This issue is entirely off the table, so what came to fruition is inherently different.

Microsoft now boasts a sort of PR placement. This was seeded in CNET, which has just broken the news about Microsoft unleashing its story about patent deals and their secret history.

The story has a lot to do with Microsoft’s Marshall Phelps, who wrote a book on his patent strategy. He was not fired but instead he took some time aside to write this book, apparently. It’s a book on how to burn GNU/Linux, but it’s titled “burning the ships” — a phrase that Matt Asay recited very frequently (he said “boats” though, also in a separate context).

Here is an interesting portion of the new article:

The Novell deal, though, is the most interesting tale and the one to which Phelps and co-author David Kline go into the most detail. It began as “Project Summer”–an effort to get at least one major Linux vendor to sign a pact with Microsoft by the summer of 2004. It began with a well-regarded salesperson, Susan Hauser, being tapped to confidentially meet with customers and see how much support there was for some sort of Microsoft-Linux partnership.

The customers were game, Phelps and Kline write, but unwilling to become a party in the negotiations themselves. As the effort took longer than Microsoft wanted it became “project next summer,” the authors quip. The company met with Red Hat, starting in the fall of 2004, as part of “Project Bridge Builder,” though talks broke down after a year and a half. Just as those talks were collapsing, in June 2006, Microsoft Chief Operating Officer Kevin Turner got a call from Novell’s then-president, Ron Hovsepian. A few days after that, Brad Smith called Hovsepian back and a new effort, “Project Blue,” was born.

The sides first met face to face two weeks later at a Hyatt near the Chicago airport. That meeting took place amid a convention of female bodybuilders. Another meeting took place in September, this time at Microsoft’s outside counsel’s office–in the same conference room where several months earlier Microsoft had hammered out an agreement with Sun Microsystems.

“Given the challenges of coming together with Novell,” Smith says in the book, “I thought it made sense to meet in the same conference room… Plus, since the room had been lucky for us once before, I figured that couldn’t hurt either.”

Talks progressed, but had not reached a conclusion. Smith suggested the two sides set an October 31 deadline for reaching a deal. Novell agreed that the deal would be “done or dead by Halloween.” After the last-minute end-run around the GPL, the two sides got the deal done and announced it to the world on November 2, 2006.

Pamela Jones added (in reference to that last sentence): “So it was a deliberate end run around the GPL, with a Microsoft goal of getting paid for each copy of Linux sold — just like SCO — but thanks to GPLv3, it was an end run that led straight into a brick wall.”

The story about Red Hat agrees with something that we already knew, but Red Hat was given a lot of flak recently because of its attitude or at least its approach towards software patents [1, 2, 3, 4]. Heise offers a very detailed analysis that we recommend reading.

The disclosure that Red Hat have applied for a patent on what might strike some as an obscure corner of the software ecosystem has caused others to re-evaluate how open and collaborative Red Hat actually are. As the AMQP 1.0 standard entered into its final phase, a 2007 Red Hat patent application, the company now refers to as a “defensive” patent, on an obvious extension of AMQP, was automatically disclosed and caused quite stir. What is AMQP, why is it important, what has Red Hat done to cause a ruckus within the AMQP community, and what does it mean to open source in general.

Red Hat could probably do a lot more to help the fight against software patents in Europe because now is a crucial time.

WMGarrison has just told us that he had “been studying Red Hat’s position on software patents [...] basically, they seem to be in favour of software patents, against business methods, and mainly for interoperability protection.”

The summary of Garrison’s long article goes like this:

In this article we revisit the historical 2005 Software Patent Directive, the most heavily lobbied European law ever, and look at Red Hat’s public policy statements regarding this law. Our conclusion: Red Hat Instead, they endorsed the propaganda term “Computer Implemented Invention” and they lobbied for amendments that would legislate for, not against, software patents across Europe where the letter of the law still forbade them.

As we respect and very much value the opinion of the FFII, giving the benefit of the doubt to Red Hat would be hard in this case. Can Red Hat make a formal clarification about its stance on software parents? Uncertainty helps not at all and it’s beneficial neither to Red Hat nor to Free software; it’s beneficial to Microsoft.

“[The EPO] can’t distinguish between hardware and software so the patents get issued anyway.”

Marshall Phelps, Microsoft

TomTomaginot Line: Fighting Microsoft Using Patent Pools

Posted in Law, Microsoft, OIN, Patents, TomTom at 5:43 am by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

Water danger
Patent pools to the rescue?

Summary: What a patent blanket/inventory may mean to TomTom’s two-way battle with Microsoft

A FEW DAYS ago we reposted the press release about TomTom joining OIN (well, OIN mailed it to us) and now we have the chance to remark on news coverage.

One of the fastest to report on this was SJVN, who published “TomTom gets allies in Microsoft Linux patent lawsuit fight.” It’s a good short article.

When Microsoft first sued TomTom for patent violations in TomTom’s Linux-powered navigation devices, I wasn’t sure how much of a fight TomTom would put up. Legally TomTom was between a rock and a hard place. You can’t use restricted-use patents in GPLed software. If Microsoft just wanted to use the lawsuit as a hostile takeover tactic, TomTom didn’t have anything like Microsoft’s financial resources to fight them with.

Glyn Moody chose a provocative headline by suggesting that the TomTom case is the new SCO case.

I don’t think this materially affects the Microsoft lawsuit, since these OIN patents are not intended to be used for attack, more to remove possible obstacles. It simply emphasises the increasingly alignment of TomTom’s interests with those of the wider GNU/Linux community, and represents a nice poke in the eye for Microsoft.

Moody is in favour of this idea which he characterises as “Patent Commons”, but we reserve some judgment against this approach which IBM’s Arnaud Le Hors wrote about two days ago (on patent pools):

The Eco-Patent Commons has momentum

[...]

The Eco-Patent Commons was launched in January 2008 with the participation of Nokia, Pitney Bowes, and Sony, in addition to IBM.

Later Bosh, Dupont, and Xerox joined, and today WBCSD announced that Ricoh and Taisei joined the commons and Dupont contributed more patents.

How convenient it must be for IBM to say all this. How many patents does this company have again? The only solace is that IBM — unlike Microsoft — does not attack Free(dom) software. It would be counter productive.

It appears as though the editor (“Leader”) of ZDNet UK has once again slammed Microsoft for its patents-centric approach against Linux. He did so several times recently, e.g. when Microsoft signed the patent deal with Brother.

The warning sound of TomTom

[...]

[T]hose were the days when Bill Gates could say that software patents had the potential to put the industry at “a complete standstill” and with good reason. If the sort of protection Microsoft now claims for itself had been available to CP/M then, Microsoft would never have created its monopoly, nor amassed a fraction of its power.

Now it has, the rules have changed. Microsoft is perfectly happy, while proclaiming openness and interoperability, to find a company in dire financial straits and then threaten it with expensive legal action over what any self-respecting programmer would identify as a hackish kludge–something that advances the art of computer software not one bit.

David Meyer from ZDNet UK reported on these TomTom-OIN affairs, but he added no new information.

The satnav maker announced it had signed up to the OIN on Monday. By joining, it gained access to more than 275 patents and patent applications. In return, it has to open up its own intellectual property to other OIN members, royalty-free.

The implications of this are more properly discussed over at Groklaw and it remains to be seen how TomTom can use patents to fight some more patents (the GPL forbids cross-licensing in this case), as opposed to pushing for the ‘Bilski test’ — that is, seeing if it can be applied to software.

Dana Blankenhorn voices an opinion and The Register adds very little information other than some background that leads up to the OIN story.

TomTom has now thrown its name into the ring, and has probably bagged a few more supporters along the way in its noisy legal spat with Microsoft.

The software giant issued a lawsuit against TomTom in late February when it accused the firm of infringing eight of its patents.

Just last week TomTom hit back with a patent claim of its own in which it accused Microsoft’s Streets and Trips products of infringing four patents in the vendor’s vehicle navigation software.

This was also covered by Heise and Microsoft’s PR tool, Ina Fried. It was mentioned along the way in Tectonic, but there is too little in-depth analysis that we could find.

Microsoft Hires Federated Media for Twitter AstroTurfing

Posted in Marketing, Microsoft at 4:18 am by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

“Mind Control: To control mental output you have to control mental input. Take control of the channels by which developers receive information, then they can only think about the things you tell them. Thus, you control mindshare!”

Microsoft, internal document [PDF]

Little bird

TWO WEEKS ago we wrote about Waggener Edstrom doing work for Microsoft at Twitter. Despite its many services to Microsoft [1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8, 9, 10], Waggener Edstrom was apparently not enough for Microsoft to control the minds of people at Twitter. So Microsoft had just summoned Federated Media as well:

Microsoft + Federated Media + Twitter = ExecTweets

[...]

I was curious if there was more to the ExecTweets site than met the eye. Was Microsoft just paying for advertising/marketing mentions on Twitter?

Is it not a rhetorical question, Mary Jo?

Related:

Eye on Microsoft: Advertising, Vista 7, and Conficker

Posted in Microsoft, Security, Vista 7, Windows at 4:05 am by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

Summary: Some quick links to news of interest about Microsoft

Microsoft Underwhelms With Preview Of Futuristic Ad Technologies

Call us crazy, but isn’t the point of a public demo to generate excitement?

Windows 7: The Good, the Bad, and the Ugly

It’s as if someone took a collection of day-glow spray paint cans and just sort of splattered the thing. Ugh! Truly horrible looking.

April Fools’ Day is no joke to Windows: Conficker to Phone Home on April Fools’ Day

Symantec Corp.’s Vincent Weafer, vice president of the company’s security response group, agreed with Stewart that it’s impossible to know ahead of time what stunt Conficker’s controllers will pull next week. “Nobody has any real idea,” said Weafer. “There’s no indication of what it will do April 1.”

[...]

Conficker, which is also called Downadup by some security companies, first appeared late last year, and originally exploited a Windows vulnerability that Microsoft Corp. patched in an October 2008 emergency update. In early 2009, the next version — Conficker.b — infected millions of PCs in just a few days.

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